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The Crawford family talks about how medical usage of cannabis has helped them. (Jon Kelvey / Carroll County Times)

On Friday afternoon, the Medical Cannabis Commission announced companies that won preliminary licenses to dispense medical marijuana — now called cannabis by the commission to distinguish it from recreational marijuana — including at least two companies that will sell medical pot in Carroll County.

DLD Enterprises Inc., and MyBond LLC were awarded preliminary licenses for Maryland legislative District 5, which covers Carroll County exclusively, with the Maryland Cannabis Commission regulations allowing two dispensaries in each of the Maryland's 47 state senate districts (although exceptions were made for companies that already held a preliminary growers license).

There were 102 preliminary dispensary licenses granted out of 109 possible licenses, for which the commission received 811 applications. Each of the preliminary licensees now has one year to get going and begin their operations.

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The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission will announce on Friday the companies that won preliminary licenses to dispense medical cannabis.

It's an exciting prospect to Ron Bond and Kim Myrick, the partners in MyBond LLC.

"I am very excited for the opportunity and I think there is a fair amount of medical literature accumulating on the benefits of medical marijuana," Bond said. "I want to be a respectful neighbor to the residents of Carroll County who are not necessarily accommodating of that view, but it seems like that is the direction the country is moving."

Neither Myrick nor Bond has experience as a business owner, and Bond said that it was difficult to do much preparation before learning where, and if, they would be granted a license — they applied in five different districts — so "we are not really a formal business organization quite yet."

In Oregon, the Crawfords decided to try medical cannabis. They were amazed by how effective it was at mitigating Randy's pain.

Now they plan to begin the earnest legwork of finding a suitable location for their dispensary.

"Our initial thoughts were somewhere close to Westminster, somewhere on Md. 140 hopefully. I know there are a lot of questions about zoning in Carroll County for this type of business, so we obviously need to consult with the local officials there," Bond said. "I think we would like to consult with the other license awardee to see what their plans are, because we sort of want to work on this together."

Given that there are only two dispensaries allowed in District 5, Bond believes MyBond can work cooperatively with DLD Enterprises when it comes to where to set up shop.

That's a topic Diane Davison, a Baltimore attorney who is both legal counsel for and a principal with DLD Enterprises, said she can't touch until after the company receives full approval from the Medical Cannabis Commission.

"We are excited by this opportunity to obtain a medical cannabis dispensary license in District 5 of Carroll County. We look forward to opening a medical cannabis dispensary and being able to serve the community's needs," she said. "We also look forward to becoming a positive part of the community fabric."

Four more companies were awarded preliminary licenses in Districts 4 and 9, which southern Carroll shares with Frederick County and Howard County, respectively: Euphoria Wellness Maryland LLC and K&R Holdings Inc., in District 4, and Farmalogics Health & Wellness LLC and Trilogy Wellness of Maryland LLC, in District 9.

It is not yet known whether their operations will be centered in Frederick and Howard counties or at a Carroll location in a shared district, such as Mount Airy — calls to Farmalogics Health & Wellness LLC and Trilogy Wellness of Maryland LLC were not returned. Euphoria Wellness Maryland, which will be a sister dispensary to the first operational medical marijuana in Las Vegas, Nevada, Euphoria Wellness, cannot rule out a Carroll County location, according to Operations Director Darlene Purdy.

"We are currently looking at different addresses and hoping to hear from those in the next few weeks," she said. "You really couldn't go forward with anything until you found out if you were preliminary accepted. Now we get to actually find out and move forward with locations and local permits and all that."

The next step for the preliminary dispensary licensees will be a Dec. 21 meeting with the Medical Cannabis Commission to see just what the requirements are to become a fully licensed and operational dispensary, which Bond at least, said is quite welcome.

According to the adopted ordinance, prospective facilities must be located at least 500 feet from any other lot or parcel of land which has a residential use, residential zoning classification, school use or park use.

"There is very little communication coming from them to us as far as what the expectations are once you achieve phase I approval, because it has taken this long to get to phase I of the license approval," he said.

Medical marijuana was initially approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2013, but problems with the law forced a legislative reboot in 2014, and even then, key legislators behind those laws were deeply concerned with the delays in their implementation by the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission, which was assigned to develop regulations. Regulations drafted by the commission after 2014 created a system whereby 15 licensed growers, assisted by any number of licensed processing facilities, would supply medical marijuana to qualified patients through dispensaries and setting their limit at two per state senatorial district.

Further changes signed into law in 2015 shifted the official state terminology — and the name of the commission — from medical marijuana to medical cannabis to distinguish the medicine from recreational pot and gave some advocates reason for optimism: In April, 2015, the former executive director of the Maryland Cannabis Commission, Hanna Byron, told the Times that it was not unreasonable to expect cannabis to be in the hands of patients within a year.

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Now, more than 18 months later, dispensaries have another 12 months to begin getting cannabis to patients, but they will be at the mercy of the medical cannabis growers and processors, who received their preliminary licenses in August.

"All of this is going to be dependent on the growers and processors because we will of course be dependent upon them for the source of our medical cannabis product," Davison said.

Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness LLC is one of the 15 companies that won preliminary licensing to grow medical cannabis in Maryland, and will be in a perfect position to supply both DLD Enterprises and MyBond, since its operations will be in Carroll County. Exactly where, the company is not saying, but CEO Steve Weisman did confirm that the company also won a preliminary license to operate a dispensary in Rockville.

"We expect that we will do business with and supply many of the dispensaries throughout the state," said attorney Mitch Kahn, Co-CEO of Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness, when reached by phone for an interview.

Kahn was on hand Nov. 28 when the Taneytown Planning Commission granted his company final approval for a location in the 5000 block of Taneytown Pike, but according to Taneytown City Manager Henry Heine, the company is not yet committing fully to that location.

Westminster Councilman Tony Chiavacci, meanwhile, said Westminster had been discussing a site near the Westminster airport with Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness.

"I know that we are certainly hopeful that they'll occupy that space out at the air park," Chiavacci said. "It will bring 100 jobs into the community and I would rather it be here than elsewhere."

Neither Heine nor Chiavacci said their respective cities, as far as they knew, had heard anything from potential cannabis dispensaries. Heine noted that Taneytown had enacted a zoning overlay that would keep any such establishments in industrial zones, and while Westminster has a similar overlay zone restricting medical cannabis operations to commercial areas along Md. 140, Chiavacci said he welcomed the businesses if they chose to open in Westminster.

"Maryland made the decision they are going to allow it, it's legal, and I think it's an opportunity for Carroll County to capitalize on," Chiavacci said. "It's a medical thing, it's not recreational, so I don't look at it any different than a drug store in my opinion."

Regardless of which site it picks, and despite the long delay in birthing the Maryland medical cannabis industry, Kahn said grow operations will begin soon — though perhaps not soon enough for patients who have been waiting since 2013.

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"I think we are proceeding well and we are excited about it and we will expect the medicine will begin to be available on dispensary shelves sometime in the second or third quarter of next year," he said.

jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-3317

twitter.com/CCT_Health

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